Panamanian Foods and Culture

on Friday, March 6, 2009

As a continuation of my previous article, I will outright say that I am an extremely picky eater. Traveling has been an issues with this food issues that I cannot seem to get a handle on. Panama, especially, was really hard to cope with, food-wise. I went with a group from my church in Indianapolis, and we were extremely focused on not interrupting the lives and homes of each of our host families. We were told, which I have seen to be true, that if you are a guest, Panamanians will feed you as if it is your last meal, treating you to every kind of food that they know and love and expect every person to have the appetite of a football player...including me.

We were introduced to so many different types of foods, not knowing what each food we were given was, due to the fact that only two of our team members actually spoke Spanish fluently. For me, this was extremely difficult to get past. Most of the time, we would eat in a dimly lit area , not allowing me to inspect the meal as I tend to do with every food here, and the food would have a texture that I was not used to tasting—two of the most difficult things for me to get past.

When we were in the populated cities, or at my host family's home, the food that I ate was challenging to stomach. We were given so many different forms of red meat (which, as stated in a previous post—I do not eat) and different foods that were, in my mind, not quite done being cooked. I was grateful for the food nonetheless because they were the kindest people, taking complete strangers under their roof, feeding me, taking me to their church, and allowing me to feel a part of their family. Food has always been the most difficult area to compartmentalize and just put mind over matter and “get over it.” It was a struggle, but it took every ounce of will to just put that in the back of my mind and eat the food.

I had the opportunity to venture out into the jungle with the rest of my team for two of the three weeks, and we were able to visit three separate villages that allowed us to help them establish a more consistent food source for their families. These mountainous and jungle villagers love the use of chicken in every dish. I was extremely hesitant of what was to come because of what I had been eating back in the capital city of David with my host family.

After a long day's work, we were all gathered around the hut that several villagers had been all day preparing the meal for us. As I walked in to get my share, I was astonished that my mouth began watering just at the smell of the food, the second I walked through the door. To this day, I can still remember the taste of that glorious chicken and rice that I partook in that night, and every other night that I stayed in these villages.

Food will always be an issues for me, trying to find a type in any area that I will enjoy—or at least keep down. After certain experiences, I have found myself unwilling to branch out and try new foods, but several times, I have been pleasantly surprised at what I have found to enjoy.


Post a Comment